The garment industry in Bangladesh shrank by nearly a third last year, as a new wave of government restrictions on the industry drove factories to seek cheaper labor from abroad.
The slowdown in garment exports is one of the biggest economic blows to the country in decades.
Last year, exports to China fell by over 50 percent, and the government imposed a ban on imports from India and South Korea.
But with imports rising and foreign companies wary of the government’s new clampdowns, the market for garments has been severely impacted.
The global apparel industry, which includes everything from suits to pants, is estimated to be worth $14 trillion, and is worth $3.6 trillion in the United States.
The garment industry’s slowdown has been exacerbated by a rise in garment suicides, with the industry’s leading apparel exporter, China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., reporting a 44 percent drop in garment sales in 2016, according to the Associated Press.
The company’s shares dropped about 8 percent in 2016.
The apparel industry has struggled with a supply glut in the last two years as factories have closed and factories that were once factories have been turned into sweatshops.
The government has restricted some forms of apparel production and banned imports from the world’s largest apparel exporters, like China and India, in an attempt to curb an increase in suicides among garment workers.